At Memphis Obstetrics and Gynecological Association P.C., we believe that all women should have access to healthcare providers who really care. As a woman, you have unique health needs that deserve to be taken seriously and treated by practitioners who are experts in the field. This is especially true when it comes to your annual exam!
Annual exams are an important rhythm for women’s health because they allow us to monitor your health over years and years and provide the testing and labs to detect any problems. Whether you are focusing on birth control, family planning, or menopause, it’s best to have our doctors test and provide support through all the life brings.
Let’s talk more about why annual exams are important and why you should schedule one every year or two!
Things to Know About Your Exam
If you have never been in for an annual exam before, you may have questions about what they entail and what to expect. To start, let’s give a baseline for how annual gynecological exams work, and then we will get to what you should expect from an exam at MOGA.
When Should You Start Getting Exams?
Every person’s body is different, but we typically recommend that teens start coming in for their first exams around the age of 16-18. If you have noticed any causes for concern, like late puberty or painful cycles, then you can come earlier. Once you become sexually active, you should definitely start scheduling regular appointments.
How Often Should You Come In?
The frequency of your visits will depend on your age and your health needs. We typically recommend that women ages 21-29 should have a yearly appointment, and after age 30, you can start coming every two years. These factors will change based on your unique health needs or challenges. For example, women who have certain health conditions might be recommended to come in more often for monitoring.
What Happens During My Exam?
Once you’ve been in a time or two, you’ll get the hang of our rhythm for the exams. It starts when you check into one of our offices in Memphis, Bartlett, Germantown, or Southaven. We will have you give us a urine sample, and then we will perform a breast exam, a pelvic exam, and, depending on your age, a Pap smear. We highly recommend that women who are sexually active do sexually transmitted infection testing during the exam, as well as get the HPV shot if you haven’t already!
As you can tell, your annual exam is all about monitoring current conditions and preventing things from happening in the future when possible! If you are uncomfortable during any part of the exam, speak up with your clinician, and they will do everything they can to support your comfort. We know it can be vulnerable to come in for your gynecologist appointment, but it’s worth it to keep your health in check!
Tips and Tricks For Your Exam
Now that you know what the exam entails, let’s talk about how you can be prepared in order to have the easiest and most convenient visit!
Bring Your Questions and Concerns
You know your body better than anyone, so your annual exam is the perfect time to bring up any concerns you have about your gynecological health. Has there been a change in your menstrual cycle? Are you experiencing pain? These are things that your clinician will want to take into account during the exam to help get a better understanding of how to treat you!
Wear Comfortable and Easily Removable Clothing
Your comfort is very important to us, so we encourage our patients to arrive at their appointments feeling as comfortable as possible. At the same time, you will have to remove items of clothing in order for the clinicians to perform exams, so leave the complicated buttons and ties at home this time.
Ask About Additional Screenings
The standard testing we do at exams is the Pap smear that checks for cervical cancer. But we offer other testing that is available to you! Ask us about testing for sexually transmitted infections, osteoporosis, pregnancy, and more!
Abide by the 24-hour Rule
We recommend abstaining from sex for at least 24 hours before your appointment in order to ensure the most accurate testing results from your Pap smear.
Ask About Family Planning Options
Are you planning to wait to have kids and are considering birth control options? Or are you ready to start trying to get pregnant? Either way, our team can assist you with your family planning goals. There are many forms of birth control on the market, and we can work with you to recommend the best fit for your body and lifestyle.
It’s also wise to speak to a doctor if you want to conceive since they can advise you on how to equip your body and mind for pregnancy. This might include nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle changes that can prepare you for carrying and birthing a baby.
Ask About Menopause
Menopause is a fact of life that happens to most women around the age of 50, though the timeline varies from woman to woman. As you age, it’s a good idea to speak to your clinician about what to expect and get support to ease symptoms when menopause does begin. It can seem scary to witness these big changes in your body over the years, but it’s nothing more than the natural progression of life, and we are here to support you through every twist and turn.
MOGA Is The Place For You
Now that you understand how annual exams work and what to expect, all that’s left to do is to schedule your appointment! Finding a doctor you can trust and talk to about your gynecological health is super important to helping you feel safe and supported. We know the right clinician for you is found here at MOGA. We hope to see you in one of our offices soon!